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5150 California Welfare & Institutions Code (W&I)

5150 Welfare & Institutions Code (W&I) authorizes law enforcement or medical providers to involuntarily confine a person suspected of having a mental disorder which makes them a danger to themselves, a danger to others, and/or gravely disabled (i.e. unable to take care, feed, or shelter themselves).

For seven years, Attorney Ivan Morse served as an Oakland Police Officer. When it comes to arrests for 5150 W&I, he received extensive training about mental behaviors to properly determine whether an arrest is necessary.

Attorney Morse would receive calls to evaluate individual acting strange. He and his fellow officers would approach the person, talk to the individual who called the police and would question the person who had been acting strangely.

Law enforcement would determine if the said person needed to have up to a 72-hour hold placed on them and transport him/her to a facility for evaluation. The person would usually cooperate.

However, sometimes that is not the case.

In one incident, he said:

“We had a call one evening to evaluate a man that was allegedly acting strange. We approached the gentleman to question him about his behavior. The man was a small wiry man and speaking unintelligibly. He was making strange sounds that appeared to be coming from his body. We advised the man we were going to transport him to a facility for evaluation. We started to lead the gentleman to our squad car and all hell broke loose. He had superhuman strength tossing officers off that were trying to subdue him. It took 5 officers to wrestle and handcuff him all the while he continued to make strange guttural sounds.”

In the event of a 5150 W&I arrest, the person is transported to a facility approved by the State of California for evaluation. If necessary, a person could be held up to 72 hours.

By the end of the 72 hours, one of the following three things will happen:

  • You will have been released, or
  • You will have signed in as a voluntary patient, or
  • You will be put on a 14-day involuntary hold (called a "certification for intensive treatment" which requires one to go before a judge for a for review hearing).

If a person is held beyond the 72 hours, and it is not involuntary, they have a right to contact an attorney to get released. Every individual has a due process right to have a hearing heard before a judge.

Additionally, those arrested for 5150 W&I must surrender all firearms to police officers. According to W&I § 8102, If a person that is detained for a mental evaluation possesses, owns, or controls a firearm or other dangerous weapon, it must be confiscated by law enforcement.

Police officers must file a petition to retain the confiscated weapons or destroy them. The owner of the firearm must be given a notice.

Fortunately, an owner could petition the court and request a hearing for return of firearms and relieve from any firearms prohibition. According to W&I § 8103(f)(5), a person can request a confidential hearing outside of the public eye.

If you are arrested for 5150 W&I and not released after 72 hours and or have your guns confiscated please contact our Dublin criminal defense attorney today. Contact us and schedule a free consultation.